Helpful Hints On Purchasing Antique Engines

By Staff

3325 North 65th Street Wausau, Wisconsin 54401.

The enclosed list is to act as a guide. It is in no way
complete, because a complete list would have to cover every
particular type and style of engine, and even that could be broken
down to individual components. This would require several volumes
to complete the information!

1. Check for missing parts. It is not uncommon for engines to be
missing parts such as the crank guard, muffler, magneto and fuel
pump. Take the time to examine the engine closely. There is nothing
worse than purchasing an engine and, after taking it home, finding
a small but very important part missing.

2. Take a friend along to get a second opinion. Often a second
person can see defects that a buyer cannot see due to emotions of a

3. Beware of homemade parts and made to fit parts. Ask the
seller; 99.9% of the collectors are honest and will tell you. I
have heard of an inverted Webster engine that was sold, and the
only thing Webster on it was the cylinder block. The rest was
homemade or robbed off a common engine and made to fit.

4. Check for cracks and welds, particularly the cylinder head,
the bottom of the cylinder jacket, and the water pump on engines so
equipped. It is more common for an engine to be cracked and welded
than not. What is important is the degree of damage and fix
ability, or quality of repair if already repaired.

5. Check the flywheels, turn the engine over-do they run true?
If not, this could be an indication of a bent crankshaft or
flywheel. Secondly, check the flywheel hub and keyway for cracks
due to running with a loose flywheel or overdriving the gibe

6. Talk to a collector who has an engine like the one you are
looking at. The person can often have information on what to look
out for, particular to that make and model of engine. Examples:
bottom of gas tanks rusted out on John Deere engines or broken fuel
pumps on type ‘M’ International Harvester engines.

7. Check the cylinder bore and compression. Generally, good
compression is an indication of good bore, rings and valves. If the
engine has poor compression, investigate. Turn the engine over
slowly, listen to where the compression is leaking. Compression
leading from the exhaust or carburetor is an indication of bad
valves. Compression leaking into the hopper or water jacket is an
indication of a blown head gasket, cracked head or cracked cylinder
bore. If possible, remove the head and inspect the bore for rust
pits, deep scratches and wear.

A final note. Just because an engine runs does not make it a
good original complete engine. The ignition and fuel systems are
often modified. Magnetos are often removed and the engine converted
to battery ignition, or igniter removed and a plate with a spark
plug fitted into it. With fuel systems, the fuel pump seems to be
the biggest failure or is missing completely. This is sometimes
repaired by changing the carburetor to a gravity or suction feed
unit and relocating the fuel tank. These modifications are not done
to deceive anyone, but are done simply because the owner has no
other means of repair.

My intentions are not to scare anyone, but to inform the
collector. In the gas engine hobby I have found, as a whole, the
collectors and dealers are very honest and helpful. Good luck
engine hunting!

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Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines